HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut is planning an aggressive COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program that will rely largely on 300 local health workers and 400 to 500 volunteers.
Josh Geballe, Gov. Ned Lamont’s chief operating officer, said the state will work closely with universities and public health students who are eager to get involved and have relevant training.
“We’re going to start with them and that will get us to our May 20th date,” Geballe said Wednesday at the governor’s daily briefing.
Other states like New York and New Jersey have announced they are hiring thousands of contact tracers.
As far as testing is concerned, Geballe said they are struggling with getting a hold of nasal swabs for the testing, which is hindering their ability to ramp up testing.
Testing, which needs to increase by the thousands for Lamont to consider reopening Connecticut’s economy is still around 2,000 tests per day.
Last week, Lamont said a relationship with Quest Diagnostics would boost that number and it did for one day, but has since dropped back down to about 2,000 tests per day.
As far as contact tracing is concerned Connecticut is partnering with Microsoft to provide the Department of Public Health and local health districts the tools to speed up the tracing effort. That system is expected to go online in the third week of May.
The state is expected to release nursing home data on Thursday. To date there have been 240 inspections of the 350 nursing homes and assisted living facilities, according to Geballe.
Nearly half of Connecticut’s deaths have come from individuals in nursing homes, according to the state’s report last week.
Meanwhile, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, who joined the press briefing from his home, encouraged people to continue social distancing.
Marconi was diagnosed on April 8 and he rode out the virus at home with his wife. He said he was on oxygen for eight days, but the nausea was probably the hardest for him to get past. He said his symptoms included aches, chills, headache, diarrhea, and exhaustion.
“Any symptom you have ever had through your lifetime hits you all at once,” Marconi said.
“It is a very sobering impact it can have on you and the reality of life and how precious life is,” Marconi said.
He said he doesn’t want anyone he knows to have to go through what he did.
As of Wednesday, 2,168 Connecticut residents have died and 26,767 have tested positive for COVID-19.
Hospitalizations continue to decline and were down for the seventh straight day to 1,691
Lamont said if the hospitalization trend continues he will be able to reevaluate some of the social distancing guidelines and closures of some non-essential businesses.
The press briefing was cut short when the fire alarm at the state Capitol was triggered by workers working on the fire alarm system.